Health Briefs

Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Darren Maynard, LAc


Peanuts, Popcorn, Cracker Jack and Acupuncture

A new baseball season is upon us and we all have hopes and dreams of watching our favorite team win the World Series. Every team is looking for an edge, like finding a pitcher that wins 20 games or a strong batsman that can drive that ball out of any park. Sometimes the greatest advantage a team can have is off the field—not performance-enhancing drugs, but a reliable system of medicine that has been around for thousands of years: acupuncture.

Acupuncture, one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world, is being used by many professional athletes to enhance their performance, relieve stress, relax tight muscles and shorten recovery time from injuries. Since 2009, the San Francisco Giants have been using the services of Licensed Acupuncturist Haro Ogawa, and in that time they have won the World Series twice.

Acupuncture gives the players a distinct advantage over their competition. Most major league teams play between five and seven games a week, and after eight months, athletes become exhausted and fatigued muscles start to turn into major injuries. However, if players are recovering faster from injuries, feeling less fatigued during the regular season and playoffs, and especially less stressed and more focused while playing the game, they will have a major advantage.

Acupuncture strives to balance the body energetically, allowing it to function at a peak level. In Chinese medicine, pain is thought to be caused by energy stagnation along meridians in the body. This stagnation can be in the form of a strained or tight muscle, a bruise or contusion, a dislocated shoulder or any other injury that is blocking the free flow of qi, the life force or vital substance that animates and controls the observable functions of living beings, through the body.

Acupuncturists use small needles, usually no thicker than a human hair, to clear these stagnations and return free flow of qi throughout the body. By incorporating kinesiology, muscle testing and manual therapies, acupuncture can promote recovery by reducing pain and swelling, increasing range of motion, strengthening weakened parts of the injured body, restoring mobility, strengthening the immune system and speeding healing time.

It is important to remember that acupuncture is not the only way to treat sports injuries; it must be used in conjunction with a team’s doctors, trainers, physical therapists and strength trainers. Clear communication with all aspects of the medical staff is essential for the health of the athlete.

When muscles are balanced, they are stronger, when the body is balanced, it works better, and when the mind is at ease, it functions at a superior level. Whether for a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, acupuncture can help achieve greater success in any sport.

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About the Author

Darren Maynard, a licensed acupuncturist, is the owner of the Maynard Clinic of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Contact him at 201-508-1996 or

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